June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.522.1 - 14.522.14
Efficient Teaching of Elementary Engineering Mechanics Courses
Elementary Engineering Mechanics classes (i.e. Statics, Dynamics, and Mechanics of Materials) provide an integral portion of lower division engineering curricula for Civil, Mechanical, and Manufacturing Engineering. These courses are crucial in the engineering education process for these disciplines because they introduce students to the engineering approach in problem solving, provide basic principles that are used in following courses, and let lower division students recognize if they are equipped for an engineering curricula. In addition, many questions for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam have their roots in these courses.
Providing the proper teaching environment for these courses is a challenge for faculty and department administrations because a) there are numerous students that must be accommodated, b) the students deserve a quality experience to both introduce them to the engineering curriculum and to give them a positive encounter in the major, and c) the content of these courses forms the necessary foundation for numerous follow on courses. However, research and other demands on faculty may challenge a department’s ability to place appropriate faculty in these classes. This paper relates the evolution from teaching numerous sections of these classes, through the consolidation into large classes and eventually the incorporation of very effective and efficient student-to-student mentoring in conjunction with the large section instruction.
During the last fifty years the teaching of Elementary Engineering Mechanics courses at our university has continually evolved due to increasing enrollment pressures and higher expectations for faculty research productivity. This has resulted in a cost effective system of instruction involving at most two sections each of the Engineering Mechanics - Statics, Engineering Mechanics - Mechanics of Materials, and Engineering Mechanics - Dynamics classes. Students in these classes are provided with extensive class notes and exam file, and access to the Engineering Mechanics Instructional Laboratory (EMIL). This student run facility typically has eighteen student teaching assistants which provides full tutoring coverage as well as grading of homework and examinations. Faculty involvement is limited to sixteen lecture hours per week and supervision of the examination grading process. During a typical Fall or Winter Semester this system serves approximately six hundred students.
Success of this teaching effort is assessed by student questionnaires about the EMIL operations, scores of student’s Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, student course evaluations, and department exit interviews. Student questionnaires indicate that 79% of the students regularly use the EMIL and that 97% of the students rate the quality of the tutorial service either good or excellent. Students from our program pass the FE exam at a rate higher than the national average and student course evaluations and data from exit interviews indicate that understanding engineering fundamentals (i.e. engineering mechanics) is among the highest rated aspects of our program.
Key Words: Mechanics, Instruction, Mentoring
Christiansen, H., & Benzley, S., & Guthrie, S., & Paudel, G. (2009, June), Efficient Teaching Of Elementary Engineering Mechanics Courses Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5340
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